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Six Dedicated Cars for Volunteer Community First Responders


The Launch


During Volunteers' Week in June, at beautiful Buckfast Abbey in Devon, six Charity funded Dacia Duster cars were handed over for Community First Responders (CFRs) to use across the South West.


Our Charity secured a major grant of £128,000 from NHS Charities Together to buy the six Dacia Dusters and have them converted and fitted out for Community First Responder use. Each car has been wrapped with the CFR livery, equipped with a full CFR kit, enhanced patient observation equipment and a Raizer lifting chair.


The cars received a blessing from the Abbot of Buckfast Abbey, in the presence of SWASFT CEO Will Warrender, South Western Ambulance Charity Head of Charity Zoe Larter, NHS Charities Together CEO Ellie Orton, SWASFT Head of Volunteering & Community Services Jane Whichello and many other volunteers, staff and invited guests. 


These cars were provided for the Volunteer & Community Services team to enable them to meet a multitude of needs. To extend CFR capacity, participate in community engagement activities, be used for observation and double-crewed shifts and for volunteer training. Also to potentially be used to target specific types of incident, for example as a 'Falls Car' or a 'Crew Welfare Car' at times of specific need.

3 Months Later...


Reviewing the data after these CFR cars had been on the road for the first three months, we could see they have attended:

  • 72 Category 1 999 calls (i.e. the most serious, life-threatening incidents) with an average incident response time of under ten minutes;

  • 230 Category 2 999 calls (i.e. patients with serious condition, such as stroke or chest pain, which may require rapid assessment and/or urgent transport);

  • 135 Category 3 999 calls (i.e. An urgent problem, such as an uncomplicated diabetic issue, which required treatment and transport to an acute setting.  This category also includes non-injury falls).​


Over the past three months the CFR cars have attended a broad range of emergency incidents including:

  • 59 breathing difficulties;

  • 57 falls;

  • 47 chest pain/cardiac arrest/heart problems;

  • 27 strokes;

  • 14 convulsions/fitting.


Additionally, the cars were booked out for many hours to support:

  • Community events;

  • Recruitment & Awareness activities;

  • Education & Mentoring sessions;

  • Fundraising activities.

Community First Responder volunteer Barry says;   “A significant benefit identified from the use of county-based CFR cars is the ability for new volunteers to attend observer shifts.  During these shifts experienced Community First Responders can provide mentoring, training and support ongoing professional development in their role.”


Community First Responder volunteer Richard says, “The enhanced profile [provided by the dedicated CFR Cars] offers the immediate operational benefit of making CFRs more noticeable, which aids personal security, especially when responding at night or at less busy locations. This increased visibility has had an exponential impact of the population’s awareness of the CFR role. This increases recruitment interest, saving recruitment expenditure, and increases the likelihood of further charitable donations.”

Real life story of a CFR Car in Dorset:


During a recent extreme pressure spike on South Western Ambulance Service delivery, we were able to allocate a CFR car to a volunteer Responder in the East of Dorset who generously agreed to provide additional time to help out. He actually travelled all over Dorset, attending five incidents back-to-back. Liaising with the Clinical Support Team he was able to clear four incidents at the scene as not requiring Ambulance attendance. At the fifth call it was clear an Ambulance was required and one was now available, ensuring the patient received care without having to wait.


Community First Responder volunteer Alexander says, “These cars have added a completely new dimension to how we can support our front-line colleagues and therefore our communities.”

Real life story of a CFR Car in Cornwall:

(Please note this story contains details which may be upsetting)


In the first month that a car was available, it was dispatched to attend a child who was not breathing, at a brand-new property in Cornwall. Every second counts in this kind of Category 1 (highest level) emergency. The housing development was so new that it was not shown on Satnav and there were no house numbers, but because the CFR arrived in a dedicated car with the livery, a member of the patient’s household was able to spot the car approaching and attract their attention. The CFR arrived and went in to see the patient. The ambulance arrived very shortly after, and again because they could clearly see the CFR car, they knew exactly where to go and were on scene seconds quicker. We are pleased to report that the child had a very good outcome.


Comment from a South Western Ambulance Service crew member: “We don’t have to search for the house when you’re there.  It saves time – we can see the Community Car from miles away!”

Community First Responder car.jpg
More news and stories from our supporters

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us on 0300 3690108 or email

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